Little Kids

Why selling baby items online can put you at risk

Finding a home for your unwanted kids’ stuff is easier than ever—but sell the wrong items and you could find yourself in trouble.

Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

Thanks to Kijiji, Freecycle and Facebook buy-and-sell groups, it’s easier than ever to sell, trade or give away kids’ items you don’t need anymore. It’s just so satisfying to declutter, pass on useful stuff and even make a few bucks.

But did you know that it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that when you're selling baby items online, the items are safe? If your stuff is hazardous, a kid could get hurt—and you could be held liable, which could result in stiff penalties or even jail time.

Here are some items that are most likely to be hazardous and land a seller in trouble.

Banned items Some kids’ items have been banned in Canada because they are deemed unsafe. If you sell any, you’re breaking the law and could be held responsible. Examples include:

  • baby walkers
  • polycarbonate bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA)
  • devices that hold baby bottles so that babies can feed themselves, unattended

For the complete list of prohibited items, check the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

Recalled products Occasionally, manufacturers ask customers to return or modify a product—furniture, shoes, medicines, even kids' bathing suits!—because it may pose a health risk. Check the federal government’s Recalls & Safety Alerts database for recalled items. If you sell or give away a recalled item and a child gets hurt, you could be liable.


Car seats and booster seats Don’t sell a car seat or booster seat if it:

  • is damaged in any way
  • is past its expiry date (or “useful life date”)
  • is missing parts, instructions or labels (manufacturer’s name, model number and date the product was made)
  • was in a vehicle involved in a collision

The seat you’re selling must bear a National Safety Mark (click here to see a picture of it) and must meet current regulatory requirements—to confirm, ask the manufacturer. (For more about car seat and booster seat regulations, visit Transport Canada’s website and Health Canada’s website.)

Cribs, cradles and bassinets Do your homework before selling that hand-me-down crib, cradle or bassinet—many older models (for example, any crib made before September 1986) are now considered unsafe under the Canada Consumer Protection Safety Act. Check Health Canada’s website for more information about requirements for mattresses, spacing between crib bars and the height of crib corner posts. Cribs, cradles or bassinets that are damaged, missing parts or missing information (manufacturer or importer, model name or number, date of manufacture and assembly instructions) should be destroyed and discarded, even if they’re relatively new.

Baby gates Certain kinds of baby gates—those with “V” or diamond-shaped openings at the top, larger than 38 mm—are illegal because they could strangle a child. Don’t sell a gate that doesn’t close securely, or is damaged or missing the manufacturer’s name, model name or number, date of manufacture, or instructions for installation and use. (For more information, consult the Hazardous Products (Expansion Gates and Expandable Enclosures) Regulations.)

Strollers and carriages Health Canada advises against using strollers made prior to 1985. Even if the model you’re selling is newer, check that it meets current regulatory requirements. It should be in good condition: look for signs of damage; check that the brakes, locking mechanisms (for folding models) and wheels work properly; ensure it has a three-point harness (lap belt and crotch strap, firmly attached to the frame or seat); and find the manufacturer’s name, the model name or number and the date of manufacture. (For full details, consult the Carriages and Strollers Regulations.)


Playpens Only playpens with small or fine mesh (resembling mosquito netting) are considered safe. Playpens also can’t have more than two wheels or casters, and it shouldn’t be possible to attach more wheels. Don’t sell a damaged playpen (check for torn mesh or vinyl and protruding hardware). Confirm that everything works well, including locking mechanisms on folding models, and check that the manufacturer’s name, model name or number and the date of manufacture are still visible. Folding models should have instructions, too. (For more info, consult the Playpens Regulations.)

Toys Don’t sell toys that are broken or otherwise unsafe (sharp edges, loose parts, peeling paint or lead-based paint, faulty fasteners, etc.). (For more about toy safety, visit Health Canada’s website.)

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Read Health Canada’s Facts for Garage Sale Vendors and consult the Canada Consumer Protection Safety Act for further information.

This article was originally published on Jun 28, 2016

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